Current Plans Aren't Enough To Stop Catastrophic Climate Change — But There's Hope

“Humans are capable of amazing accomplishments if we set our minds to it.”

Global warming will reach disastrous levels if countries around the world don't find ways to scale back on their greenhouse gas emissions — and fast. On Monday, the United Nations' scientist panel released a sobering new report on climate change and the widespread ramifications it may have on the future if immediate action by the world's leaders isn't taken. 

According to the report,  issued by a group of U.N. scientist advisors and researchers called the Intergovernmental Panel on from Climate Change, pledges made under the Paris Agreement by the world's governments won't be enough to prevent global warming from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2040. Such a rise in temperature could cause serious changes in weather and agriculture, including higher sea levels, severe rain, snow and flooding, more heat waves, and even the displacement of people from their homes. 

While there's still a chance to avoid this temperature threshold, doing so would require serious and wide-spanning action from governments all over the world.  "Limiting warming to 1.5 C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics," Jim Skea of Imperial College London, one of the authors of the report said, per NPR. "But doing so would require unprecedented changes."

As the report outlines, world leaders would have to use technology and enact new environmental policies to aggressively phase out fuel in order to keep the world from warming beyond the 1.5 degree Celsius mark. They would also have to take preventative action to remove future emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. Only rapid and far-reaching changes like those would allow the world to hit near-zero emissions in the next 30 years or so. 


Though there's been a growing outcry among the public in recent years for global climate change policy, it remains low on the priority list for many. President Trump has spoken out against the idea of environmental regulation, publicly supporting increased fossil fuel drilling.  

Despite the frustrating failure to take action on the part of many global leaders, plenty of groundbreaking climate change research continues to take place in the science community. This month, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, two Americans known for their work in climate economics, were awarded the Nobel Prize for their examination into understanding how worldwide economies can grow sustainably. Nordhaus, who advocates governmental taxes on carbon emissions, was honored for creating a model that evaluates the economic impact of climate change. Romer was awarded for his work exploring how policy can encourage technological innovation that could help battle global warming. 

"One problem today is that people think protecting the environment will be so costly and so hard that they want to ignore the problem and pretend it doesn't exist," he said at a news conference following the announcement, according to The New York Times"Humans are capable of amazing accomplishments if we set our minds to it."

Cover image via Krista Kennell /


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.